Elsewhere we have written about the Ten Things to Do Before Age Ten — ten areas of life we think are important to concentrate on with your children before they turn ten. The following is a subset of the above list of ten things — ten things to do from birth to age five (or so).
Focusing in on these early years, here are ten things to do from birth to age five (or so).
1. Develop listening and learning.
Read aloud to your child — work up to a couple hours per day. Use audio books often. Vocabulary is the primary index of intelligence, and regular reading aloud to your children from good literature for at least two hours per day will widen their vocabulary and their conception of the world. In addition, this will prepare your child for learning to read and spell.
2. Develop playing and exploring.
Give your child plenty of free play time. This will help develop their elementary creativity.
3. Develop an inner library of sensory experiences: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling — aka, keep your child away from screens (television, computer)
4. Get out of the house — this is an extension of #2.
Spend lots of time outdoors — work up to two hours per day. This will help develop their elementary creativity. Visit the FaceBook group and page 1000 Hours Outside.
5. Develop a sense of self-worth and accomplishment.
Help your child learn to assist you with chores around the house, taking care of animals, gardening. Communicate to them that they are needed.
6. Expand the dimensions of experience.
Expose your child to a wide variety of experiences — experiences from which to build her understanding of the world. Field trips, exposure to music, exposure to other languages, familiarity with the library.
7. The early years are formative in the way of establishing good habits and attitudes. Start the process of helping your child to develop good habits, which might include manners and courtesy. Good attitudes might include respect for parents and siblings.
8. Establish an awareness of God.
From the very start, include your child in your family worship.
9. Develop an inner library of good and guiding examples.
Around age two or so, you can start to help your child to learn how to memorize Bible verses, poetry, prayers, or whatever it is that is important to you to memorize. This will prepare your child for learning to read and spell.
10. Very young children learn more through their senses. They need more hands on manipulatives before age five. Give them plenty of time to experiment with art and crafts and thereby develop their elementary creativity. Learning to hold a crayon or pencil will prepare them for handwriting.
This is when your child develops a physical, mental, and spiritual appetite. We won’t develop an appetite for good food by feasting on junk food – and we carry that analogy over to all of life. This is the time to sow the seeds of honoring God and parents, developing the capacity for language and the appetite for learning, enriching the memory, and instilling a work and service ethic. This is the time to lay the foundation for the formal academics which will follow. We want to pay attention to developmental principles. Balance does not come from feeding appetites. A balanced diet is not one which satisfies my constant craving for ice cream and chocolate. Balance comes from training appetites. From birth to age five (or so) is the most important because it develops an appetite or love for learning in the child. It is here he develops an inquiring mind. We are giving our students the basic tools, which they need for self-education. You should focus on building a good foundation for later academics. You want to develop in them an appetite for learning.
Around age five (or so), then the things we wrote about in Chapter 11 of our book, Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style, will become important.
Possible practical application from the above ten things to do from birth to age five:
You don’t need to buy a curriculum or workbooks. Just live life. Children are learning through the experiences you share with them.
Life is your curriculum.